Carolina Lowcountry Hope Spot
Hope Spots represent a network of culturally and naturally significant marine and coastal locations around the world that are locally managed by communities or individuals with a shared desire to promote ocean health and abundance. By being a part of Mission Blue's network, a community can expand it’s region's connection to comparable initiatives around the world along with their networks.
I envision our Hope Spot as an opportunity to promote citizen science, community-based management, and greater collaboration between the Lowcountry's various conservation and sustainability organizations through a unified initiative that targets specific naturally significant biomes, culturally significant spaces, regionally unique species and behaviors for greater protection and study. I hope to see students from elementary school through our universities expanding their immersive educational experiences through this network and see a greater role given to communities like the Sea Island Gullah Geechee communities in how we discuss and manage their culturally significant natural systems. Hope Spots are first and foremost about empowering communities to take ownership of their surrounding natural world so that they can make conscious choices to preserve, protect, and restore them. That is what I hope we can accomplish through this effort.
An initial core of the South Carolina Aquarium, Lowcountry Land Trust, Charleston Waterkeeper, Friends of Coastal South Carolina, and the Coastal Conservation League represents a strong coalition of experienced voices in the protection, management, and restoration of our state's natural systems with the vision and connections to expand our alliance of federal and state agencies, community groups, educational institutions, businesses, individuals, and municipalities to truly make this a community-wide effort.
Some potential locations and biomes for inclusion in the Hope Spot could be the ACE Basin and Bull's Bay, saltmarsh and oyster reef estuarine systems, turtle nesting sites along our beaches, specific culturally significant sites for the Gullah Geechee community and Native American history, the deep-sea reefs along the continental shelf, Carolina bays, and potentially blackwater swamps and bog ecosystems that are part of the watershed.
We are at the early stages of this endeavor but have a great deal of support and momentum from our principal partner Mission Blue so with their guidance and through our regional partners, we can empower our community in the long term protection and management of our coastal watershed through our shared vision of hope.